Summary: The average person falls asleep in seven minutes. There are seven reasons why Hermione can't, and seven things that heal her. Dealing a little with PTSD-type issues, post-DH, RHr.
AN (1): Recommended listening: "Billion Bees" by Kevin Devine.
AN (2): So, I wrote this in about an hour today, just for funsies :) And because I'm going to watch some amazing dance tonight, so yay! Anyways, I've always thought Hermione would have just about a million issues after the war, so this is dealing with those. Please leave a review! :D
Put Your Ghost to Rest
Settle past a patience where wishes and your will are spilling pictures
Water's running through in the valley where we grew to write this scripture:
Never gonna break, never gonna break
- "Minnesota, WI" by Bon Iver
The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.
She knows this because he claims she knows everything. But it's really because she reads, and, for some reason no one's ever been able to understand, she remembers. When she was little, her father had thought she had a photographic memory. But she didn't, she knew. She remembers things in patterns. She remembers connections. And, most of the time, it's great. It's fantastic. In fact, it's saved her life an infinite number of times.
But, now, and for the past few weeks, it's been the worst thing ever. It's one thing, like seeing Ron, even, that's a trigger, and then, for the whole day, she can't do anything. She doesn't feel sad. Or happy. Or scared. Or relieved. Really, she doesn't feel anything. Or maybe she just feels it all, too much, too fast.
She knows Harry's worried and Ron's petrified. She's not eating. Not laughing. Not crying. She's not even reading. Or talking. But she's just exhausted. Because every time she closes her eyes, she's back there. Every time she takes a breath, she smells the carpet, her face pushed against it as Bellatrix did unspeakable things to her.
And then she can't sleep. She wakes up all the time, even if she does end up falling asleep at some point. She breaks things with wild magic. She panics. Which means potions to calm her down. Which make her even more empty.
She curls up in bed, Ron's bed – neither Molly nor Arthur had objected to her staying there, after the first night back at The Burrow when she'd screamed and screamed, tore at the scar on her arm, and jinxed Ginny before Ron could calm her down – and tries to really go to sleep.
It takes the average person seven minutes.
But it's not like she's average. Not anymore, at least.
It's about seven in the evening, and everyone else is down having dinner, she knows. She misses them fleetingly for a second, and the emotion – a real, solid feeling – surprises her. But it's gone before she can hold onto it, evaporating with everything else.
And it leaves room for the things she wishes, with everything she has, that she could forget.
One, she counts, tracing the scar on her wrist. It's red, still, and the worst thing about her. She'd had to explain it to Molly and Arthur and everyone else, and Ron had clenched his jaw. Harry had left. She'd said everything in a monotone. She hadn't cried.
She also hadn't slept since then.
Two. It's rough and three shades lighter than her skin, and it runs from her right collarbone all the way down, dragging across her chest, ending on the seventh rib on her left side. After her fifth year, she'd tried to go swimming with her mum and dad on holiday – she'd forgotten – and her mother had started sobbing in the bathroom. Her father had punched a wall.
She'd told them she fell.
Three. No one can see it, because it's on the bottom of her left foot. He'd pushed off from the floor, but a tiny flame had caught her shoe. Screaming and screaming, she hadn't noticed it until they were out of the Room of Requirement and into the hallway, and by then it was too late. Her shoe was burned through, in a hole about two inches in circumference, a circle, and her skin wasn't there either. But there was a war to be fought, a war to be won, and damn it, she couldn't stop. Not now.
She never even got it healed.
Four. Her hair. She doesn't want to count it, but she does, because no one's listening to her thoughts, anyway. She hates it, hates everything about it. She needs to cut it, too, because it had gotten so long over the past year (there was no way she was letting Ron or Harry anywhere near it, no matter how much they cared for her – they were boys). But she can't bring herself to care enough about that either.
It would take far too much effort.
Five. She counts the scar on her stomach, even though she doesn't know when exactly she got it, really, and it's not big or gruesome, really, about two inches long, just above her bellybutton. It was during the battle in Sixth Year. She counts it because of Lavender and because Dumbledore died, and she thinks maybe remembering those things would make her sad again. At least, she hopes.
She doesn't feel anything.
Six. First year, she broke her arm helping Harry get the Sorcerer's Stone. It had hurt but she'd been so full of adrenaline she didn't even notice until Ron had told her. They'd limped together back to the hospital wing, and gotten Dumbledore, and Harry was fine. There's a tiny scar there, straight and from what, she has no idea.
It's the one thing she can't remember.
"Hermione?" he asks, his voice soft and timid.
She nods instead of saying anything, because her voice is so sewed inside.
He comes and sits down on the side of his bed. She doesn't look at him. She hears him put down a plate of food on the nightstand, even though everyone knows she won't eat it.
He brushes aside a curl of her hair, tucking it behind her ear. "How're you feeling?"
He sighs. "Mum sent this up for you. I can eat some of it, you know, so she doesn't pester you, if you want."
For a second – another surprise – her heart starts up again, and it's not out of panic or fear. She feels like it's filling her chest warmly, and she closes her eyes and tries to make it stay. "That's okay," she whispers, and her voice sounds foreign to her own ears.
Ron looks pleased just to hear her voice, just that she responded with something other than a stare or a nod. "Do you want some?"
She shakes her head no, and his face falls.
"Were you asleep?"
She repeats her previous motion and feels the words bubbling up like a geyser in her chest. She grips onto them with all of the strength she has left, forcing them not to evaporate.
"I can't feel anything!" She shouts it, and Ron looks terrified and immensely relieved, all at the same time.
She hangs on to the words, sits up, and she can tell he makes sure she can't get to her wand.
"I just want to sleep," she whispers.
He tentatively puts his arm around her shoulders, but then she flings herself onto him. She feels everything, in that moment, in his arms, rips completely open. She's been fighting it and fighting for it, all at the same time.
She screams and sobs and laughs and she's worried that he'll think she's crazy and leave, but he rides out the storm with her, holding her as she bites her lip and hits his chest with her little fists ("I wished for her to kill me!").
He tells her to breathe when she starts whimpering, sniffling quietly. And she listens and she does.
She backs up a little, and it's a lifetime later.
He wipes the tears off her cheeks, and smiles. "There you are," he whispers.
She hugs him gently, and it calms her.
"Can we go outside?" she asks softly, and he nods, helping her up.
Ginny and Harry are standing just outside the door, looking alarmed and apprehensive, but when Hermione flings her arms around both of them, she can practically see them looking at Ron with tears in their eyes. Good tears, though.
All four of them go outside, sitting under the oak tree and the stars. Hermione talks, and they all sort of seem amazed to hear her voice again.
Seven. The slash through her bottom lip. It's small and thick, from a whip-like branch of the Whomping Willow in Third Year.
But when Ron kisses her, softly and with more reverence than she's ever known, she forgets.
Six. The next morning, he leads her to breakfast, hand in hand. Molly wipes tears when Hermione smiles – a real smile – and takes a bite of toast.
George sits down next to her with a grin, nudging her arm. His touch is startling, because she feels so much.
"I was going to go break in there myself, you know, Hermione," he says.
"Oh, you know, Fred and I'd known a long time ago that Ronald here's in love with you."
Ron nearly spits his pumpkin juice all over Hermione. She laughs.
George wiggles his eyebrows. "I think it's about time you two shag."
"George!" Molly shouts.
"Ew," Ginny says. Harry grimaces.
George shrugs as Ron turns completely red and Hermione debates hiding under the table. "It's what Fred would've wanted."
He nudges Hermione's arm again and she thinks maybe it's healed after all.
Five. They get ready to go swimming, that afternoon. She's changing and Ginny comes in. They don't care – not anymore, at least. Ginny seems to glance over Hermione's form in a second. She's seen all of the marks so many times they raise no questions.
"Ron'll love that scar by your bellybutton," she says casually, taking her shirt off.
Ginny shrugs. "I have one close to there, too, and it's Harry's favorite. He kisses it –" she turns red as Hermione smiles – "all the time."
"Well," Hermione grins, glancing down at the little red slash against her skin, "I guess I can't wait for that."
"Molly?" Hermione asks, softly. Sometimes she still fights keeping the words there, but she won't ever let them go again.
Molly looks up from where she's knitting with a soft smile. "Yes, dear?"
"Will you cut my hair?" It's strange because it sends a tiny jolt of sadness through her, a soft shock against her chest, and she relishes it.
Molly nods, though she seems a little surprised. "Sure."
Hermione sits down a few minutes later in one of their kitchen chairs, a sheet wrapped around her shoulders.
"How short?" Molly asks softly.
Ron sits nearby, unabashedly watching, staring.
"To my shoulders," Hermione decides, and she sits still as she feels her curls fall around her. When Molly's done, she smiles at Hermione, handing her a mirror.
It looks weird and grown up and it amazes Hermione to see how healthy she looks. She stands and walks to Ron with a grin.
He runs his fingers through her hair, free of tangles for once, and her favorite boyish smiles spreads across his face, too.
"I love your hair," he whispers.
"Me too," she says. It's the first time she ever means it.
Three. She tangles her feet in his legs, and the soft hair there feels so soothing against her burn. He glances over at her.
"You got burnt, there. I saw it," he whispers.
She looks down and then back up. "It didn't hurt."
He tickles the bottom of her foot with his toe. She laughs. "You're a bloody liar, Hermione," he sings playfully.
She hits him in the chest. "Language!"
He laughs. "You don't care that I called you a liar?"
She shrugs. "I figure you know the truth anyway. I can lie if I want."
He shakes his head. "I don't think I'll ever understand you."
She kisses his chest. "Maybe that's the point." Her small hand slips down his boxers.
He groans. "I'm fine with that."
Two. Her mother sobs, taking Hermione into her arms in a flash, after the memory charm is reversed.
Her father punches a wall before joining them in a strong embrace.
Someone's saying, "It's over! It's over! It's over!" and someone's saying, "I hate you!" and someone's saying, "I love you so much!" and she's not sure who's saying what and she's not sure it even matters anymore.
Her chest feels like it might burst.
But, by now, she doesn't think she'd really mind another scar.
"You're beautiful," he whispers, and kisses the 'm'.
She feels the tears in her throat, and she allows herself to give into the sobs, making up for all of the times she didn't.
He kisses and kisses and she lets him.
They make love, for the first time, that night.
Her name from his lips is music and heartbeats, and, her body in his hands, she remembers the stars and forgets everything else, and she feels safe.
She falls asleep.